North Carolina Regulators to Cut Back on Malpractice Data

July 18, 2008

North Carolina medical regulators voted to cut back on the amount of information they will post on a Web site about malpractice settlements of North Carolina doctors.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported that the North Carolina Medical Board decided to post only settlements that total more than $25,000 on its Web site. The amount is the level at which a doctor’s malpractice insurance premiums are affected.

The information won’t be posted until fall 2009.

Medical board members also voted to only show malpractice data dating to October 2007, which is when the Legislature created the rule requiring the information be posted. Initially, the information was to be shown for a seven-year period.

Some doctors and their attorneys have threatened to sue, arguing that publishing malpractice settlements could violate secrecy clauses.

But even the watered-down rules could be vulnerable to a legal challenge, said Stephen Keene, the N.C. Medical Society’s general counsel. The society is a lobbying group for doctors.

Malpractice information already is published by more than 20 states.

Doctors have said that publishing the information could lead patients and the public to believe that a settlement is the same as admitting negligence or poor care.

A research company that looked into the issue for the board said North Carolinians wanted access to the information.

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